VISP Cohort Program

Expanding the scope of VISP, the new cohort program facilitates the admission of cohorts of international students for study within academic departments at UW-Madison.

Cohorts are identified by the UW-Madison academic department. They are groups of international students from foreign institution(s) who will focus their studies within your academic department during their time at UW-Madison. They can come over the summer, or for one or more semesters. Departments can select the group of students from one or more institutions from around the world. Thematic track programs are cohort programs that the department wishes VISP to market externally to interested students. You can see a list of current thematic track offerings on our website.

Why host a VISP cohort or thematic track program?
Hosting a VISP cohort can help to fill under-enrolled courses within the department, diversify your student body, strengthen ties to foreign institutions, and is an avenue for generating revenue for your department. Tuition paid by a cohort can directly support the costs associated with offering courses (faculty salary, development costs, supplies, expenses, etc.). Learn more about hosting a VISP cohort or thematic track program in our video below.

Summer is a great option
With more space available in classes, flexible schedules, and support from Summer Term, many departments have begun to plan and explore potential options for developing a summer VISP Thematic Track program. UW-Madison academic departments hosting a Summer VISP thematic track program receive optional wrap-around services and additional support from Summer Term. Learn more on our Developing a Summer Thematic Track page.

Contact Us

Meet the International Team
Telephone: (608)263-6960

Mee Her, VISP Cohort Liaison

Developing a Summer Thematic track

Learn more about the assistance available via the VISP Summer Programs site.

VISP Webinar Series

Learn more about different aspects of VISP programming through our new VISP Webinar Series.

Can VISP assist in recruiting students for our cohort program?
The VISP staff can help steer independent students with matching academic interests towards your cohort if you would like assistance augmenting your numbers. These students would factor into the standard cohort revenue calculations. VISP cannot guarantee that we will receive independent students for any given term, and therefore departments are expected to fulfill the initial recruitment of students.

Departments wanting to open recruitment outside of a preselected group should request their Thematic VISP track to be included in our current Thematic VISP opportunities by contacting the VISP Cohort Liaison.

What is our department’s responsibility in hosting a cohort?
By committing to host a cohort, you will identify an appropriate array of courses within your department to ensure that the bulk of the students’ full-time enrollment requirement is accessible for students in your department. Departments should plan to provide and communicate appropriate course selection and content advising for students. Departments recruiting from direct partner universities will act as the liaison to the foreign institution. Assistance with additional wrap-around services often requested by partners in the summer may be available. Learn more by visiting Developing a Summer VISP Thematic Track.

Can we admit students to take online-only coursework if they cannot or do not wish to come to the United States due to travel restrictions or other factors?
Yes, VISP students can be admitted to take online-only coursework. We cannot issue visa paperwork for online-only students. If a student applies to take classes in-person and changes their mind before the start of the term, they would just need to let us know so we can cancel their visa paperwork. Your department would then work with them on their intended enrollment. Be sure to let students know if online courses will be synchronous or asynchronous, as this will likely impact the courses that the student wishes to take.

If a student starts as online-only, can they later come to campus for in-person classes in a subsequent term?
Yes, you would work with the VISP Cohort Liaison, Mee Her. As it takes time for paperwork to be submitted, please have the student let us know at least 2 months before the start of the in-person term.

What is the tuition rate for online-only coursework through VISP?
The tuition rate is based on the program of study, not the mode of course instruction. As such, the tuition rate would be the same University Special rate regardless of if the student enrolls as in-person or online-only.

Because UW-Madison cannot sponsor a student on F1/J1 visa paperwork for online-only coursework, students in VISP taking online courses do not have a full-time course load or credit requirements and can enroll in any credit load. Their credit load will determine the cost of tuition based on this table. VISP online students will not be charged the semesterly $100 ISS fee nor be required to enroll in SHIP (Student Health Insurance Plan).

Departments are welcome to offer cohort scholarships to students if they wish to lower the cost to online-only students. If you’re interested in exploring this idea, please contact the VISP Cohort liaison, Mee Her.

How does Adult Career and Special Student Services (ACSSS) assist with hosting a cohort?
ACSSS serves as the main advising and academic dean’s office responsible for all University Special Students including VISP cohorts. Our office will oversee much of the general student communications. We will coordinate the application and admissions process as University Special Students. We will facilitate the student visa request process, serve as their Academic Dean’s office, assist with housing, and provide a comprehensive orientation upon their arrival in the US.

Assistance with additional wrap-around services often requested by partners in the summer may be available. Learn more by visiting Developing a Summer VISP Thematic Track.

How did this program develop and how is it supported by the University?
For the history about our VISP Cohort program, please refer to the VISP Cohort Policy Agreement.

If you are interested in exploring the idea of hosting a VISP Cohort in your department, please contact the VISP cohort liaison, Mee Her, for more information.